A proposed amendment to the UK’s Education Act would see local authorities “monitor” the “educational, physical, and emotional development” of children who are being taught at home, in plans deemed “draconian” by homeschooling parents.
The Private Members’ Bill, put forward by Estelle Morris on behalf of Labour’s Lord Soley, has passed the second reading in the House of Lords; if it passes through the House of Lords and then on to the House of Commons, the Bill would be the first step in the regulation of homeschooling.
The Home Education (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill would grant “local authorities… the duty to monitor the educational, physical and emotional development of children receiving elective home education in their area.”
The Education Act 1996 includes wording which asserts that local authorities in charge of educational institutions and educators shall “contribute to”, “promote”, or provide facilities for the “spiritual, moral, mental and physical development” of a community’s children – but this is the first time wording related to “monitor[ing]… emotional” development would find itself enshrined in law if passed.
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Additionally, the Bill asserts that parents of homeschooled children must “register” their child with the local authority which “must assess annually” each homeschooled child.
The “assessment” may include a visit to the child’s home or an “interview” with the child.
The number of home-registered pupils has nearly doubled between 2011-2012 and 2016-17 with the highest increase in homeschoolers occurring between the past two school years from 21,740 in 2015-2016 to 29,805 in 2016-2017.
Schools Week website asserts the numbers of parents opting out of state education is even higher as those figures reflect Freedom of Information requests from just over half – 86 out of 152 – local authorities.
Councils have said that bullying, not getting the preferred school places, dissatisfaction with the school system, and greater awareness of home education are the major reasons for the rise.
Greg Smith, head of operations at Oxford Home Schooling, which provides syllabuses for home educators, says the bill has spawned a Facebook group of 400 parents, many of whom feel the measures are “draconian” and would make parents feel like criminals.
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The only other occasion on which the state has the right to enter your home is “if you’ve committed a crime”, he said.
UKIP Education Spokesman David Kurten told Breitbart London: “It has always been the case that parents are the primary educators of their children. This principle must not be abolished under a false premise.
“There are many and varied reasons why parents choose to homeschool their children, but most parents have their children’s best interests at heart. There is currently a worrying trend among MPs and Ofsted to attempt to indoctrinate primary school children with ‘LGBT sex and relationships education’ and ‘gender-queer theory’ at an age which is far too much too young.
“Many schools also unashamedly promote EU propaganda and have an unhealthy political bias among many teachers towards Marxism and far left ideologies.
“Parents must continue to have the choice to remove their children from such political indoctrination without fear of interference from the state in their families and homes.”